MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The University of Minnesota Gophers Football program has come through a difficult time, and there is still much work to do to repair the damage to the school.
The fallout from an alleged sexual assault scandal back in September cost head coach Tracy Claeys his job, but administrators feel better days are ahead.
Fox 9 Sports Director Jim Rich spoke with Athletic Director Mark Coyle on Monday – the first time Coyle has spoken with the media since the hiring of new head coach P.J. Fleck.
Fleck has been pressing the flesh with recruits, trying to get as many kids as he can before the Feb. 1 signing date. Coyle said when he first met Fleck for an interview in Chicago, the two shared a vision for the football program and it was after that conversation that Coyle knew he had the right man for the job.
After his initial press conference where Fleck was full of fire, some longtime Gophers football fans felt they have been down this road before – referring to former coach Tim Brewster.
But, Coyle says there is one difference between the two high-energy coaches.
“You’re defined by your actions. We can all say a lot of things, but ultimately you’re going to be defined by your action,” Coyle said. “He went 1-11 his first year, his last year they finished 13-1. Academically, they were below a 3.0. When he left they were above a 3.0. He was doing things the right way.”
Coyle said talking with other people who knew Fleck helped solidify his decision to hire the coach.
“I had a chance to talk to some other coaches around the country about him, we did a lot of research on him, and again, people feel like he is not only an incredible person with great passion and great energy, but he understands the game,” Coyle said. And again we think those two things will help us build this program where we want it to go.
Coyle also said no other players that were here under Tracy Claeys have asked to leave or transfer. He said Fleck has had several meetings with the current team and is quickly building a bond with his new players. But, still there is a long way to go before fans will see results.